Worlds away from the bland youth genre books we had read up to that point, I first read The Handmaid’s Tale as a fourteen-year-old as part of school-set required reading. Originally published in 1985, this Margaret Atwood novel is stained in my memory as a riveting and horrifying read, yet thoroughly unfathomable outside of the pages of fiction.
As an adult, I now have a greater understanding of the novel’s relevance. It is a feminist horror where women are stripped of all rights, and fertility becomes their own only value. Gilead, the patriarchal dystopian society where the novel is set, propagates puritanical values preventing women from any sovereignty over their lives and bodies.
With the novel now adapted as a TV series, there is renewed interest in the source material. This year the book hit Amazon’s bestseller list and found its way back onto the New York Times bestseller list.
Today, as we see some governments turning more far right, and politicians becoming more vocal in contesting access to birth control and abortion, the source material makes for an eerily prescient read.